Letter: Rotten voting

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I share Max Beran's concern at the lack of choice we will have in next year's European elections (Letter, 24 September). He is wrong, however, to attribute the problem to proportional representation.

Achieving a reasonable degree of proportionality by party is important, but it is not the only characteristic we want of our voting systems.

Our aim in reforming the electoral system should be to ensure that those elected better reflect the views of the electorate, and that can only be done by allowing voters to express their preferences for candidates and not just for parties.

The principles of proportionality and voter choice need not conflict. If the Government had chosen the single transferable vote, or even an open list system, for the European elections then both objectives could have been achieved. It is the Government, and not PR, which we must blame for a closed list system which, while offering the advantages of proportionality, denies voters choice.

Fortunately Lord Jenkins' commission has been asked to recommend a system which extends voter choice as well as being broadly proportional, and we are therefore optimistic that the commission will propose something better for Westminster elections.

KEN RITCHIE

Chief Executive

Electoral Reform Society

London SE1

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